Dee Allen: Autobiographical Essays from an Activist’s Life

 

WAR, MILITARISM AND THE PRISON-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

_____________________________________________________                                    I’ve been against this military occupation of Iraq before it began. I’ve always been strongly anti-state and anti-military, since my seniour year in high school. “President Bush had already committed troops to Afghanistan”, I thought, “And now he wants to start another war in the Middle East.”

 

        Before coming to San Francisco from Atlanta 5 years ago, I never went to any protests. The extent of my political activity was doing politically-charged spoken word at houseparties, coffeehouses, nightclubs and “open mike night” at bars. In January 2003, I went to my first street demonstration ever. It was in opposition to Bush’s plans [or rather, the Project for a New

Amerikkkan Century’s plans] to invade Iraq. Acquiring petrol and United $tates political/economic dominance were the reasons why the Bush-Cheney regime wanted another war and I was in the streets, with literally thousands of aggrieved folks, resisting it.

 

               Despite scores of anti-war demonstrations across the globe [including the February 16, 2003 2000-person breakaway march that led to my summary beatdown, arrest and week-long stay at San Francisco County Jail], Bush waged war anyway. The people’s voices were ignored. On the rainy afternoon of March 19, 2003, while playing houseless tourguide to 3 visiting Kansas University students for the Coalition On Homelessness, I attended a massive anti-war march.

 

We joined the march from a Food Not Bombs public serving under a blue coffeestand canopy in United Nations Plaza. Once the march stopped in front of 24th & Mission B.A.R.T.,  a pickup truck parked sideways in the middle of Mission Street, to serve as a makeshift stage. Three speakers each stood on the back of the pickup truck to deliver the same news to the public:

 

“BAGHDAD HAS BEEN BOMBED. THE WAR HAS BEGUN.”

 

ANGER. I felt nothing but anger, and so did the rest of the crowd, including the 3 Kansas University students.

 

That’s when I knew that my work as an activist was cut out for me.

 

                 Four years and countless demonstrations later, Gulf War 2 is still with us. Approximately 3545 U.$. soldiers dead; 65,000 to 700,000 Iraqi civilians and soldiers dead. U.$. soldiers that returned alive have severe post-traumatic stress disorder [categorised by Veteran’s Adminstration doctors as a “personality disorder”, therefore not a reason for Gulf War 2 veterans to qualify for benefits]; others amputated; others both.

 

I still have my work cut out for me.

Something’s got to give.

 

I believe the hope in bringing Gulf War 2 to an end lies not in a Demokkkrat-led Congress, but in G.I. resistance and counterrecruitment.

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                 Recently, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed to solve the problem of prison overpopulation by building more prisons. The Golden State is already #1 in the continental United $tates for prison construction. California still has more prisons per capita than any other state. Systematic targeting of Black & La Raza men and women, regardless of the severity of their crimes, makes it easier for the populace inside prisons to grow to the point of swelling.

 

 Prison overpopulation is not a problem as politicians, judges and sociologists will have one think; it is a logical conclusion of how prisons in a Capitalist society work.

 

                 Building and maintaining new prisons, as any Critical Resistance activist will tell you, ruin the economies of small towns and re-orient them towards such.

 

 

 

 

INDIGENOUS VOICES–FROM THE HEART OF MOTHER EARTH

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                Five hundred years of colonialism, exploitation and racism and North Amerikkka’s indigenous people are still strangers in their own domain. Or that’s how White-dominated mainstream culture treats them. In spite of that treatment, Amerikkkan Indians held onto customs, religious rituals, languages and original tribal names that they’ve had since time immemorial, prior to European contact.

 

                Still, the adverse treatment of First Nations people persists. Time and time again, Amerikkkan Indians are ejected from land that they’ve lived upon for centuries. Long after federal government policies from recent history, such as termination, relocation programmes in metropolitan areas and Catholic-run boarding schools for Indian youth, have been tried and yielded horrific results, something old still works to the advantage of settler culture: The land grab. For corporate use.

 

                For example, San Francisco-based engineering and construction firm Bechtel had underwritten the testing of nuclear weapons on historic Newe [Western Shoshone] land. The things you learn just by attending a protest at Bechtel.

 

                In another example, Peabody Coal have conducted strip-mining operations on historic Hopi and Dineh [Navajo] Indian land since the 1970s. This natural resource extraction has succeeded in displacing both Hopi and Dineh nations people from homelands they have shared since being concentrated into the same space by the U.$. Cavalry in the 1880s. To ensure that historic Indian land is left vacant for coal-mining/extraction, the Hopi tribal government uses Hopi Rangers to do the dirty work of the federal [White settler] government and Peabody.

 

                One area in particular–the Black Mesa region of Arizona–had been selected by Peabody Coal for further coal-mining/extraction. The area was to be made vacant for those purposes, but the Dineh people still live there as an act of resistance. The Benally family are determined to stay on the land of their forebearers, mining or no mining. However, because they chose to resist Peabody Coal and remain on their land, Dineh families like the Benallys live in Third World conditions. No electricity, no running water, no heating or air conditioning systems. The Dineh in Black Mesa rely on propane gas, candles, large clear barrels of water, hand sanitiser, batteries and mobile power generators to simply survive.

 

                In November 2006, I bore witness to those Third World conditions in Black Mesa for myself. Me, 2 peers from a local S.F. Bay Area Anarcho-Punk collective and other concerned individuals traveled in a biodiesel-fueled van from San Francisco to Black Mesa. Our mission: To repair the dilapidated homes of Dineh Indian families. It was the best way we could support their struggle against Peabody Coal and the sell-out Hopi tribal government.

 

                In the course of 3 days, our collective:

 

*Removed a plexiglass skylight window and roof shingles and replaced them with new roofing shingles for the home of John Benally;

*Mixed shoveled dirt and water in wheelbarrows to create mud, then applied it to the outer walls of Leonard Benally’s earth-and-wood hogan;

*Repaired the roof of the sheep ranch home of Rena Babbit-Lane, and;

*Rebuilt and widened the sheep corral fence using logs.

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Dee Allen.

W: 6.22.07

 

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